Zelensky’s Latest TV Interview Shows How Much the Ukraine Conflict’s Dynamics Have Shifted

Yves here. Below Andrew Korybko, among other issues, is talking up the prospect of a ceasefire and a frozen conflict. While Ukraine and the US may think that’s a viable endgame, this again is another instance of the dynamic we described in our May post, US Geopolitics: Believing Impossible Things:

But to me, the most intriguing is the weird bargaining, which very much like bargaining over death, is bargaining with yourself. For some time, since at least General Mark Milley’s quickly deflated trial balloon last November, there has been more and more talk from pundits and even sometimes from officials how Ukraine should negotiate with Russia, after some sort of retaking of ground so as to better Ukraine’s bargaining position.

Of course, the idea that Russia will do anything more than go through the motions of negotiating for appearances’ sake is delusional. As former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar reminded readers in his latest post, Putin warned Ukraine and its backers last July, the longer the conflict lasted, “the harder it will be to negotiate with us.” That was before Merkel and Hollande bragged about their Minsk Accords duplicity, which has led Putin to make embittered statements about what a mistake it had been to try to cooperate.

The ceasefire/frozen conflict talk is a new variant of what we saw in May. There is no way, given present facts, that Russia would agree to that.

First, Russia has deemed four formerly Ukraine oblasts as Russian territory. It has not secured full control of them and that step would be the bare minimum that Russia would accept, which means more territorial acquisition. Second and even more important, a stated aim of the Special Military Operation was the “demilitarization” of Ukraine, which the Istanbul negotiations showed could be met by the exit of NATO forces (little green men) and weapons from Ukraine and a commitment that Ukraine would never enter NATO. Note this negotiation took place before Porshenko, and later Merkel and Hollande admitted to entering into the Minsk Accords in bad faith and using it to buy time to arm Ukraine. The US and NATO officials have repeatedly said that who joins NATO is NATO’s business and they will never agree to restrict membership. So that requires Russia to continue to prosecute the war until NATO members are so drained that they are not capable of mounting a threat for a long time.

Third and most important, the Russian public would not accept a ceasefire. Putin is one of the least belligerent individuals in Russian public life.

Russia might have a problem selling the Global South on continuing to prosecute the war if Ukraine were to declare a unilateral ceasefire. But Russia succeeded in persuading them that Russia was not the bad guy in refusing to extend the Ukraine grain deal, that Ukraine and the West had persistently failed to live up to their part of the bargain, which critically included allowing Russia to ship fertilizer, which many of these countries badly needed.

On top of that. other developments in Ukraine seem at odds with Zelensky’s new improved war messaging. Alexander Mercouris’ report of August 28 gives two examples. One is that the Ukraine parliament is in the process of passing legislation to block any ceding of territory for peace (at 43:00). Second is that Ukraine plans yet another large mobilization (at 42:10).

So perhaps Zelensky is simply preparing the ground for a much wider set of options as his recent mantra of Ukraine settling only for its maximalist demands now clearly has no support among Ukraine allies (save the crazies in the Baltics who are not driving this train)

By Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based American political analyst who specializes in the global systemic transition to multipolarity in the New Cold War. He has a PhD from MGIMO, which is under the umbrella of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Originally published at his website

Zelensky is clearly preparing his people for a ceasefire, but he’s also talking about security guarantees from NATO and his country’s alleged production of its weapon systems, both of which will rankle Russia. The US’ recent elections pressure on him is for purely soft power purposes, but it still shows that their differences on a host of issues are growing after the failed counteroffensive.

The “Kyiv Post” reported on Zelensky’s latest TV interview here, the highlights of which will be shared below and then analyzed in the larger context of the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine:

* Zelensky is tacitly walking back his envisaged maximalist endgame by already declaring victory

– “It’s already clear that he [Putin] has not occupied us as he wanted. We did it, [we defended against his attack], this is already a great victory for the people.”

* He’s preparing the public for freezing the conflict along the lines of the Israeli-Palestinian one

– “We are ready to fight for a long time without losing people. It can be so. Minimize casualties following Israel’s example. You can live like that.”

* Ukraine believes that it’ll lose Western support if it invades Russia’s pre-2014 territory

– “There would be a big risk that we would be definitely left alone and on our own.”

* The “Israeli model” will likely characterize US-Ukrainian ties for the indefinite future

– “From the US, we probably have the Israeli model, where there are weapons, technologies, training, and financial aid.”

* Hard and soft security guarantees are actively being pursued

– “With the United States, it will be a more powerful bilateral treaty, with Britain – a strong one. There are states that simply do not have weapons, but they have finances, serious sanctions in case of repeated aggression.”

* An official NATO intervention could trigger World War III

– “We don’t need them, because it would be a NATO war, and that would mean the Third World War.”

* Ukraine might abandon military means for reconquering Crimea

– “I believe that it’s possible to politically push for the demilitarization of Russia on the territory of the Ukrainian Crimea. That would be better. Any combat would still have losses [casualties], wherever it is. Everything must be calculated.”

* Elections can be held next year if the West foots the bill and observers are sent to the trenches

– “If you [allies] are ready to give me 5 billion because I can’t just take 5 billion from the state budget. It seems to me that this is the amount needed to hold elections at a normal time. And in wartime, I don’t know what this amount is, that’s why I said – if the US and Europe give us financial support.

I’m sorry, I’m not asking for anything. I will not hold elections on credit. I will not take money from weapons and give it for elections either. The most important thing: let’s take risks together. The observers should then be in the trenches, they will need to be sent to the front line”

* Ukraine is now allegedly producing NATO weapon systems

– “We have domestic artillery on the battlefield today, using NATO-standard 155mm shells, which have never been seen before in Ukraine. We now have production and production of not one system, but several systems.”

These highlights show how drastically the conflict’s dynamics have shifted in the nearly three months since the counteroffensive began.

The first takeaway from Zelensky’s interview is that the counteroffensive failed, which is why he’s preparing the public for freezing the conflict. This is being achieved by already declaring victory, suggesting that Crimea can be reconquered through political means instead of military ones on the pretext of saving his soldiers’ lives, and referencing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a future model. Ahead of that scenario, he wants to reassure his people that the West will still ensure their security.

To that end, he brought up the “Israeli model” as the likely way forward for US-Ukrainian relations together with a mix of hard and soft security guarantees from other NATO countries. Zelensky also appears aware of the Western public’s growing concerns that he’s leading everyone to World War III, which might be why he explicitly ruled out invading Russia’s pre-2014 territory together with denying that he has any interest in NATO formally intervening in his side’s support.

About that, it’s already involved in this conflict via the arms, intelligence, logistics, mercenary, training, and other forms of support that it’s provided to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but this is still below the level of dispatching uniformed troops to kill Russian soldiers. It also can’t be discounted that he’s worried about Poland unilaterally intervening in Western Ukraine, which readers can learn more about here and here, and that could be another reason why he warned that NATO troops could lead to World War III.

As for holding the now-delayed parliamentary elections sometime next year and not delaying the upcoming presidential ones that are scheduled for spring, this is a direct result of the pressure that Senator Lindsey Graham exerted on Zelensky during their meeting in Kiev last week. It’s the latest evidence that the failed counteroffensive is widening preexisting differences between the US and Ukraine all across the board, in this case over superficial commitments to “democracy”.

Readers can learn more about the latest difficulties in their ties by reviewing the following analyses:

* “A Vicious Blame Game Is Breaking Out After The Counteroffensive Predictably Failed

* “US Policymakers Are Caught In A Dilemma Of Their Own Making After The Failed Counteroffensive

* “The NYT & WSJ’s Critical Articles About Kiev’s Counteroffensive Explain Why It Failed

In sum, both sides know that the counteroffensive failed, but neither wants to take responsibility for this.

A ceasefire of some sort therefore appears inevitable. The problem, however, is that freezing the conflict entails considerable reputational damage to the American and Ukrainian leaderships. Neither has yet to feel comfortable enough that their people fully blame the other for this debacle, hence why they remain reluctant to take the first step in what might then become a fast-moving process. It’s for this reason why they continue blaming each other and will likely continue doing so for the next few months at least.

President Putin made it clear on three occasions in mid-June that he was still interested in politically resolving the proxy war, but Zelensky’s latest claim that Ukraine is allegedly producing NATO weapon systems means that his reputation might also be damaged if he agrees to a ceasefire. After all, the special operation was partly commenced to demilitarize Ukraine and specifically eliminate the threat that NATO’s clandestine expansion there posed to Russia’s objective national security interests.

With Ukraine now openly producing NATO weapons systems, President Putin either has to ensure that these facilities are destroyed before agreeing to a ceasefire or informally freezing the conflict otherwise he stands to “lose face” among his domestic audience by tolerating this latent military threat. It might also be the case that Zelensky is just bluffing and could have lied about this just to make his Russian counterpart look bad in the event of a ceasefire, however, though nobody can really say for sure.

In any case, the Ukrainian leader’s latest TV interview drove home the point that the conflict’s dynamics have drastically shifted. Zelensky is clearly preparing his people for a ceasefire, but he’s also talking about security guarantees from NATO and his country’s alleged production of its weapon systems, both of which will rankle Russia. The US’ recent elections pressure on him is for purely soft power purposes, but it still shows that their differences on a host of issues are growing after the failed counteroffensive.

Looking forward, observers can expect the aforesaid to widen, but not to the point of rupturing their relations. The US-Ukrainian blame game will intensify during this period too as each side prepares their people for the seemingly inevitable scenario of freezing the conflict. As this is happening, Russia might also begin preparing its own people for the same, which could move the conflict towards the Israeli-Palestinian model by sometime next year unless something serious happens to derail this trajectory.

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  1. Benny Profane

    I find it a bit absurd that Ukraine is somehow producing NATO weapons. From what I understand, Russia now occupies most of the industrial base, and the war has shut down most any type of factory in the west. Labor alone has to be a basic issue, with millions gone and scattered throughout Europe and the world, and tens of thousands of men and women on the front line or dead and maimed. Unless these factories are built into mountains, satellite and on the ground intelligence would find them easily. A few cruise missiles, and, poof.
    One of the Duran fellows told me yesterday that Zelensky has stated that he will allow presidential elections if given five billion dollars to conduct those elections, because they would require precious funds diverted from the war effort. Five billion dollars. Gawd, what a low life. And, you know, he may very well get it.

    1. Lex

      It was 5B hyverna, so $130M. It’s still a weird blackmail effort. I also question the industrial production of 155mm shells in Ukraine. There may well be some artisanal production but if anything I’d guess that they’re refurbishing very old stock that’s not reliable for use anymore (I suspect Russia is doing the same from their soviet stocks). The problem with producing 155mm shells in Ukraine though is that they’ll also need to produce 155mm guns eventually.

      1. Susan the other

        Theater of the absurd. They will have to create an opposing candidate and give speeches, maybe an actual debate all while stuffing money in all their pockets and arranging their own escape. Calling Rob Reiner or Michael Moore to the courtesy phone. And who will be left to vote anyway, and why would they even waste their energy? Somebody please tell Lindsay Graham that democracy isn’t really a trained monkey circus act. Except for here, under the Big Tent. Which might also be collapsing.

    2. OnceWere

      Ludicrous amount of money to suggest is necessary to hold an election in the poorest country in Europe. My back of the envelope calculations suggest that 5 billion would equate to a greater cost per vote than even the US presidential election.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      He’ll allow elections, but only for a whole bunch of money?!? Sounds like somebody realizes his days are numbered and would love for someone else to do the surrendering while he carts off millions more for himself while his head is still attached to his shoulders. I wouldn’t recommend fleeing Ukraine in a small aircraft though…

    4. Tempestteacup

      Quick thought on the question of elections, and why Graham apparently pushed for them to take place next year when making his visit to Kiev.

      As the author notes, and everyone here no doubt knows, America and its allies pay lip service to their high-falutin’ love of democracy, democratic values, and other 50 dollar abstractions strictly as and when it suits. But beyond using it, like their beloved rules-based international order, as stick with which to beat strategic rivals or to kick around the rotating villain of the day, I wonder if there may be more substance to it…

      What I mean is that elections offer a regular opportunity for the US to interfere in the affairs of other states. And not just supposed enemies. Elections in friendly nations like Ukraine offer a chance to pressure incumbents like Zelensky by pulling whatever strings they like – financial, blackmail, threat of shifting their support to an electoral opponent. They can use these elections to stir the political soup, gain leverage over those they help to win, or force positions to harden in ways congenial to US interests.

      American devotion to democracy abroad, in other words, is, besides a standard piece of imperialist doublespeak, a very real devotion to the meddling opportunities offered up by the periods of destabilisation they can guarantee occur whenever an election period rolls around.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    It will be interesting to hear what former UK diplomat turned French academic Aurelien / David has to say as he has long maintained there won’t be a negotiated settlement and few wars end like that.

    Speaking with Russian colleagues, current and former, and one, in a different profession and from Lithuania recently, I agree with the contention that Russian public opinion won’t wear anything less than a clear imposition.

    I think nothing else can work. Why? Yesterday evening, BBC Radio 4 interviewed a Russian academic now working in the west, a voluntary departure, not forced exile. He explained that this war is not Putin’s war, but one long wanted and sought by Russians who feel that the fall of the USSR was a national humiliation and want that retreat reversed. The academic called Putin Hitler and explained that Putin was exploiting something imperialist and genocidal in the Russian psyche. He added that NATO must now go on the offensive, even nuclear, and break up the paper tiger that is Russia, my phrase, not his, and do it before China mobilises in support of Russia. He thought a limited nuclear exchange was doable and survivable and a price worth paying to prevent what Hitler did in the 1930s. There was little push back from the interviewer, just about the scale of public support for Putin. The academic concluded that he no longer feels Russian, but feels Ukrainian and has a moral responsibility to defeat and break up Russia, so that “we” won’t see another repeat of Hitler.

    The academic was followed soon after by Michael Clarke, formerly of the (Qatari funded) Royal United Services Institute. Clarke said Ukraine was making slow progress, but would break through Russian lines big time as they got used to more appropriate western tactics and weaponry. Patience and a few more heaves will do the trick, possibly before winter. Again, Russia was portrayed a paper tiger.

    This morning, BBC tv featured Ukrainian drones, made of wood, being used to attack Russian bases. It was implied that Ukrainian resourcefulness and resilience needs support. The fact that Russian forces could not prevent such innovative attacks showed Russia was a paper tiger.

    On a related note, my UK government official mum* reports a big influx of Ukrainian minors, sometimes with mum, but rarely dad, in tow after two waves in May and a pause in June and July. Mum adds that most will be of military service age in the next year or two. One of dad’s sisters lives and teaches near Duesseldorf and reports similar. The unofficial explanation is the war is not going as depicted in the MSM and Ukraine’s future is leaving en masse.

    *Mum has a regional oversight role. A call was somehow put to her last week. A rather exercised Karen, my word, not mum’s, wanted to speak to someone in charge and obtain assurance that the Ukrainian family that she had hosted in a well to do Thames valley village and is now in private rented accommodation will continue to receive all sorts of subsidies. Mum wondered if this Karen cared about local families going without.

    1. digi_owl

      Do wonder how many such academics Nuland et al was listening to when this disaster was kicked off.

      As for resourcefulness, i noticed a headline recently about Australian drones made of carboard. Funny thing is that social media had a field day laughing at Russia last year. When at a weapons expo a robot dog with a RPG tube on its back was displayed, as people noticed the tube was green pained cardboard.

      So cardboard is fine when “we” use it, but a show of desperation when they do so…

    2. Russell Davies

      Michael Clarke was on Sky News this lunchtime, talking about how the Russian forces are exhausted, how they’ve been fighting for two months without being rotated out, how successful Ukraine’s “deep battle” has been in depleting Russia’s weapon stocks. A lot of what he said was hedged around with comments such as “we believe” and so on. No actual evidence was produced to back up his claims. The interview came after the Sky presenter had said that the key strategic settlement of Robotyne had been recaptured by Ukraine. I thought it was just a tiny village, but if Sky says it’s so important then it must be!

        1. JohnnyGL

          I think that’s the first time i’ve seen ACTUAL russian propaganda. Huh…go figure.

          Pretty well done, actually.

        1. Michaelmas

          Clarke was like that on R4. No hedging.

          Not enough pain yet.

          Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
          falls drop by drop upon the heart
          until, in our own despair, against our will,
          comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

          ― Aeschylus

          The damage may be civilizational before wisdom comes, I fear.

    3. RookieEMT

      Thank you for this terrifying briefing in how war hungry and deluded the British press is.

      It seems worse than the United States.

    4. Kouros

      “The fact that Russian forces could not prevent such innovative attacks showed Russia was a paper tiger.”

      As the US not able to prevent IUDs exploding under their trucks and humvees, and troops’ feet?

      An online aquaintance from Russia told me that all these attacks on civilians perpetrated by Ukraine as psychological warfare is succeeding in angering the population and filling them with the desire to end with the Ukraine problem for good…

    5. Willow

      Interesting there’s been a spate of surprise successes of Ukraine hitting Crimea & deep into Russia. Putin knows Zelensky is getting close to negotiating peace? And wants to keep Ukraine’s hopes up to continue fighting and maintain Russia’s Global South image as the underdog? Putin (post-Minsk revelations) won’t be satisfied until NATO collapses politically. While on the other side, there’s no way she will allow Putin any sort of win. Both have a preference to escalate. One for existential reasons, the other for revenge. And the Baltics could well be the patsy.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Yes, Miami. He also owns a town house in central London, a villa in Tuscany (hired by a Russian oligarch family based in London for the summer) and a sea front apartment in Tel Aviv (currently occupied by his parents).

  3. Lex

    Korybko has been doing a great job here of breaking down the situation. Much appreciated.

    Zelensky and Biden are trapped. The former can’t stop the war without likely losing control of the country, and even holding an election is quite dangerous for him. The latter has to defeat Russia or suffer an unacceptable reputational loss. Both men created the situations for themselves. At least Zelensky can argue that he was somewhat forced into his predicament by Russia and Biden. Biden did this to himself and the US.

    Outside of the controlled, domestic politics of the US, Biden has to win or he loses. Russia only needs to survive. So freezing the conflict, regardless of how it’s portrayed in US media, is a loss internationally.

    1. Kouros

      Z was also forced by ultranationalist homies… who promised to hang him of a lampost on the central boulevard in Kiev if he makes peace with Russia and the rebel republics (this was prior to 2022).

      1. Lex

        Indeed. That segment of the Ukrainian population also hated a lot of the things baked into the Euro integration plan, like allowing sale of farmland to foreigners and oligarchs. Zelensky has done most of that stuff and accelerated it under the cover of war.

    2. Joe Well

      Whose reputation? His? As in the MSM will attack him more mercilessly than they did for the Afghanistan withdrawal?

      1. Lex

        Sort of his. It’s not the domestic politics that’s problematic because that can be tamped down via the media. Although running for president while losing a war isn’t great politics. It’s the US’s international policies. The hegemon idea is based mostly on reputation and fear that the US military will solve any problem that threats don’t. World leaders aren’t basing their decisions on CNN or the NYT.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Zelensky has just realized that the light at the end of the tunnel is actually an oncoming train. Maybe that is why he had his mother-in-law buy that $5 million mansion in Egypt. There is no way that he will spend the rest of his life in the Ukraine as, in a way, it would be the rest of his life. The Russians aren’t going to accept a ceasefire as that will just leave the situation as another Syria. The rest writes itself. The west will rebuild and re-equip the Ukrainian army and navy, places like Donetsk city and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station will still be bombarded, the Ukrainians will continue to send raiders and drones into Russia itself to spread chaos and terror, in a secret vote the country will be adopted into NATO overnight even though it does not meet the requirements, ships in the Black Sea will be sunk and strikes on the Kersh bridge will continue. In other words, mostly everything that is happening at the moment but the Russians would have to stand down their side. This is now a fight to the finish and both the Ukraine and Russia will be mobilizing even more men. His TV interview was more a wish list than anything else.

  5. JohnA

    Interesting that Zelensky is demanding a further $5 billion to hold elections. No mention of unbanning all the parties and personalities he has banned, so likely it will be a one party election. He talks about votes for Ukrainian refugees in the EU but no mention of Ukrainians who have fled the other way to Russia. No doubt, as was the case with previous Ukr elections when the Donbass regions were denied a vote, any Ukrainian nationals in Russia will not have a chance to vote either.

  6. LadyXoc

    The whole idea of a “frozen conflict” is absurd and a Western fantasy. Why would Russia allow Ukraine to continue to exist as a proven troublemaker into the future and on its borders? To eliminate this threat is a concrete aim of the SMO. That a future Ukraine would be modelled on Israel is a nightmare. Implicit is that Ukraine will be forever massively supported by US and in return continue to be a US proxy/”unsinkable aircraft carrier” a la Israel to control eastern border with Russia. I am fed up with the destruction of life, land and property caused by this war and all wars. This Manichean worldview of “Democracy aka Capitalism” vs. “Socialism” is a death spiral.

    1. Raelyn

      “That a future Ukraine would be modelled on Israel is a nightmare.”

      Future? Current! When you want to seize control of a region, you first engage in economic warfare as the IMF and World Bank have done, reducing Ukraine to the poorest nation in Europe, causing millions to emigrate.

      “The IMF crushed democracy in Ukraine, crushed any chance of Ukrainians to make their own policy. Finance is the American mode of warfare against democracy.”

      The IMF Won’t Save Ukraine

      “The support for Ukraine that fills Western media now is not out of real solidarity with the people of Ukraine. If that were the case, the US wouldn’t have overthrown our government twice in a decade or supported policies that made us the poorest country in Europe..”

      Next, you eradicate all military age males, as is being done. Is this all part of Igor Berkut’s Heavenly Jerusalem Project, which calls for taking over southern Ukraine (for the time being)?

  7. Aurelien

    I continue to believe that none of the above makes sense unless you accept that the western attitude to this conflict is based on essentially racialist assumptions about Russia and Russians, and that this is so powerful as to overwhelm any analysis of weapons, firepower, troops numbers and doctrine. In other words, any counter-attack will eventually succeed, because Johnny Russian can’t fight, is badly led and has poor morale. Russia, in this way of understanding things, is just Iraq with less sand. The longer the counter-attack goes on, runs the argument, the more Russian morale will fall, and quite soon the Russian troops will be running away and Putin will be overthrown. The point about these ideas is precisely that no amount of pragmatic evidence or experience can refute them, because they are essentially based on prejudices.

    1. Hickory

      That became very clear to me when I heard the military terms “sand nigg**” for Iraqis and “snow nigg**” for Russians/Soviets. Wholeheartedly agree about the racism.

    2. jrkrideau

      I think you are correct about the racialist assumptions but I think this mess also is based on extreme ignorance of Russia. M. K. Bhadrakumar at Indian Punchlie had a fascinating post very early in the SMO pointing out that the “gas station” was a key supplier of grains and something like 15-20 very important resources.

      Patrick Armstrong (Canadian ex-military & diplomatic analyst) was blogging back as far as 2015 that the US Gov’t knew almost nothing about Russia. Probably anything they thought they knew came from the “Wild West” days of the early 1990’s. I doubt that the senior “Russian experts” have been bagk in the RF since then.

      1. digi_owl

        The US source material seems to be a mix of descendants of the refugees from the Bolshevik purges, post-90s expats that feel the nation didn’t “westernize” fast enough, and reheated sovietologists that use table sizes and “manspreading” as a proxy for Putin’s health and inner insecurities.

  8. Hickory

    So interesting reading the author ascribe to Putin the same emphasis on perception management as many western leaders embrace.

    With Ukraine now openly producing NATO weapons systems, President Putin either has to ensure that these facilities are destroyed before agreeing to a ceasefire or informally freezing the conflict otherwise he stands to “lose face” among his domestic audience by tolerating this latent military threat. It might also be the case that Zelensky is just bluffing and could have lied about this just to make his Russian counterpart look bad in the event of a ceasefire, however, though nobody can really say for sure.

    What if Putin is secure enough that he’s not concerned with losing face, and is actually concerned from a security perspective about demilitarizing his aggressive neighbors?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I agree. And Putin has been trying to find a long-term European security arrangement for Russia since at least 2007, the time of his famed Munich Security Conference speech. He’s not going to compromise his commitment to achieving those aims for mere optical considerations.

    2. magpie

      You’re right. Plus, a debate involving evidence presumes a debate in good faith. There will be neither in this context unless it comes from outside the establishment.

      You mention Iraq, which reminds me of the suddenly-forgotten GWOT. “They hate us for our freedoms” was meant to conceal the political causes of Al Qaeda’s terrorism against the US. Mainstream coverage of “Putin’s war” is practically identical. Conceal the motives, conceal the solutions.

  9. Louis Fyne

    The war is going to end like Vietnam spring 1975 or Afghanistan summer 2021…..everything will appear tolerably manageable for the West, then Ukraine will collapse in 3 weeks.

    I think that this will happen between the US nomination conventions and the US 2024 election.

    Not because Putin is a master at 4-D chess, but because Kyiv is running out of men, cheap drones, expensive drones, vehicles, and any semblance of air defense—-while the Russian military-industrial complex is churning those out like tube socks.

    The question then becomes will the Russian army roll into Kyiv’s Maidan Square or turn Kyiv 2024 into a rehash of the Paris Commune.

    that said, even total Russian military superiority won’t bring immediate peace as DC will not want to change the Russia-NATO status quo (sanctions, NATO expansion, Romanian Aegis, etc)

  10. juno mas

    I find the Israeli/Palestine comparison ludicrous. While Israel clearly benefits from massive US monetary/military support to maintain dominance in the Middle East, Russia is NOT Palestine. The longer this US/NATO project goes on in Ukraine, the smaller Ukraine gets. (Now that’s an analogy to Palestine that applies.)

    1. Tom Doak

      The funny thing about that is that Zelensky doesn’t realize that his side is going to wind up being the Palestinians, in a few short months from now.

  11. Irrational

    Thanks to Yves for cross-posting and a great intro, to the Colonel for some frightening insights and of course to everyone else as well.
    I agree with LadyXOC and Juno Mas that the Israel comparison is ludicrous – if anything because the 4 oblasts Russia has claimed were the industrial and resource power house of Ukraine. Will rump-Ukraine be viable? I doubt it.
    Regarding weapons production, the Russians have shown themselves adept at taking out factory capacity, I am sure they can do it again.
    Regarding manpower – and before the Rev posts ;-) – according to TG channels, the Ukraine mobile operator had placed an ad thanking 400,000 heroes, who will never pick-up again (ad taken down, no surprise there). This number tallies with estimates mentioned on Simplicius’ substack.
    This is a terrible deal for Ukraine. Does Z. really want to hold that election?

    1. Robert Gray

      > Regarding manpower … the Ukraine mobile operator had placed an ad thanking 400,000 heroes, who will
      > never pick-up again …. This number tallies with estimates mentioned on Simplicius’ substack.

      Scott Ritter and Douglas MacGregor also quote 400K as the best current estimate of Ukrainian dead.

      I used to have more respect for Craig Murray than I have today. One reason for that is commentary such as a recent (23 August) piece titled ‘Where Has all the War Porn Gone?’, where he states

      > I am intensely irritated by the sheer stupidity of the lines trotted out by the Putin cult.

      > Ukraine has not lost 400,000 dead. … It is simply a quite extraordinary example of the Big Lie technique.
      > Ukrainian casualties have been serious, but nothing like on that scale.

  12. grizziz

    I might imagine that a break up of Ukraine Yugoslavia style might find a better international consensus, as opposed to Israel/Palestine. A new state or states east of the Dnieper and puppeted by Moscow might satisfy the buffer required by the Russians as well as burnish the anti-colonialist cred that Putin desires in respect to the building of the BRICS.
    I understand the vast amount of facts on the ground which would sunder this idea. Specifically, whether the individual oblasts could find enough consensus to work with each other. My understanding is that at the outset Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts were each seeking independence and not looking to join together as an individual state.
    I suppose none of this can happen until Zelinsky’s plane goes down with his British Security Guard and a new Ukrainian President is caught whispering, “fuck the U.S..”

  13. alfred venison

    In evoking Israel, I think Z has in mind the IDF, its place in Israeli society, and the way Israeli society is organised around supply of materiel and manpower in support of the military in the long term. A resourceful underdog nation which, in the face of an implacably hostile adversary, is permanently under arms, with perpetual military mobilisation & military service for all, and a society (re)organised around the needs of the military for materiel and manpower without end, a kind of perpetual levee en masse. And that a society/ army symbiosis a la Israel would enable Ukraine to indefinitely carry on a level of military struggle against Russia acceptable to nationalists and with a level of casualties broadly acceptable to society at large.

    I think the analog is less contemporary Israel/ Palestine and more Israel under siege circa 1948 to circa 1973, with society organised around support & sustainment of an army committed to securing national survival while surrounded by hostile entities bent on its removal.

    He’s dreaming, of course.

  14. Savita

    Can Yves or someome please elucidate the comment by Yves;

    ‘Third and most important, the Russian public would not accept a ceasefire. Putin is one of the least belligerent individuals in Russian public life.’

    Is this to say V.Putin is most concerned with ‘the will of the people’?
    I know it is a relative concept. I am just surprised by the concept of a minister being motivated by something other than their own ambition and worldview, for better or worse.
    And, this is V.Putin we are discussing, not your garden variety politician. Thankyou.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Scott Ritter, who has followed Putin’s career intensively and among other things has read or listened to every speech Putin has ever given, maintains that Putin’s top priority is making decisions is doing what is best for the Russian people. Putin’s consistent good to excellent approval ratings are (per interviews with Russian) based on the fact that they trust Putin (and not the government generally or other pols) even when they don’t agree with what he is doing. They too appear to believe in Putin’s motives even if they differ with his reasoning.

  15. again

    Imho:The ultimate winner untill this very day is the Zelenski Horse&Pony Show.Look at the grand squire himself,how he changed the way he dresses himself,listen to the rasp voice he is using to compensate his rather small posture,it is all a part of his circus.
    Look at his shows in London,Paris,Amsterdam,etc.etc.His marveling audiences:The european crowned-heads,our politicians,our media”gleichgeschaltet”,turned into Pravdas.
    How History will judge them,these european”leaders”,slowly turning Europe into a second dark continent.
    How history will judge us,citoyens/disposables.Will we remain arm-chair generals,sitting in our comfortable chairs,or do we have a closer look at the effectiveness of cobble-stones,as elections are a dead horse since many years.

  16. john

    The poor american taxpayer, every decade being blackmailed by some tinpot dictator…meanwhile, the US infrastructure, most of it built in the 1800’s, continues to deteriorate and collapse…just give Zelensky the federal reserve and be on with it.

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